Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: We The North
Each week when I write this article, my one focus is to find players that I believe can help out your fantasy team and might be available in your league. That’s it. There’s no underlying gameplan or theme each week. However, sometimes it turns into one as it did this week. Seven of the players I discussed below were from two MLB teams, two of which are two of the worst teams in the Majors that are both on pace for 100-plus losses. But that’s the beauty of the Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire. The waiver wire never discriminates and includes players from all teams, regardless of the win/loss record.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Hitters
Lourdes Gurriel, 2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays
The window to grab Lourdes Gurriel is closing quickly and likely already closed in competitive leagues. But since his ownership rate still sits at an even 50%, I’m going to include him here for the 50% of leagues where he is available to give them all a little kick in the pants. Without question, Gurriel needs to be universally owned right now with how hot he is. Over his last 11 games, Gurriel is hitting .341 (14/41) with five home runs, 12 RBI, and 10 runs scored. Both his flyball rate and hard contact rate are up from last season, and Gurriel is also using the whole field better and walking more than he ever has. With his 30-homer pop and respectable batting average, there’s no reason why Gurriel should still be available in half of fantasy leagues. Go ahead, I can’t hit the add button for you.
Cavan Biggio, 1B/2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays
If you ignore the .212 batting average, the rest of Cavan Biggio’s stat line actually looks pretty darn good. He’s hit five homers and stolen two bases through his first 66 Major League at-bats with a .358 OBP and .470 slugging. There are a few areas I want to focus on that has me excited for Biggio’s rest of season outlook. First is the fact that both his hard contact and fly ball rates are above 50%. Biggio began tapping into his plus raw power in the minors last season and that has carried over into 2019.
Cavan Biggio went deep to straightaway center for his fourth #MLB homer.
Exit Velocity: 100.8 mph
Distance: 410 feet pic.twitter.com/GgQN5zK0rA
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 17, 2019
Beyond that, Biggio’s strong walk rate has also followed him north of the border, which is why he’s still able to sport a solid .358 OBP even with the lower average. Those in OBP leagues should especially target Biggio due to his strong walk rate and all those people that dropped Biggio after his cold start will likely be regretting that decision very soon. I’d be expecting something close to a 20/10 pace the rest of the way with a high OBP and a batting average in the .250-.270 range.
Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B/3B, Colorado Rockies
Oh no, I’m buying back into a young Rockies infielder. This can’t be good. Or can it? It’s time for Ryan McMahon, take three. Take four? Something like that. McMahon has started the last seven games for the Colorado Rockies and nine of the last 10. Consistent playing time is half the battle, especially with the Rockies, and McMahon seems to have played himself into that.
Over this 10 game stretch, McMahon has hit .390 (16/41) with 11 RBI and seven runs scored. Unfortunately, this hot stretch hasn’t led to any home runs or steals, but we’ve seen the raw power McMahon has shown in the past and his hard contact rate has gone up 9% this season to 42.9%. He’s also cut down his strikeout rate and has been walking more than he did last season. Could he be finally turning a corner in the Majors? It’s worth a shot to find out.
Brendan Rodgers, 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies
Crap, two young Rockies infielders on one list? Go ahead, call me crazy if you want, but with Trevor Story out for what has been reported as “significant time”, Brendan Rodgers has been recalled from Triple-A to take over at shortstop in Story’s absence. When I hear “significant time”, that usually means at least a month absence, which means plenty of time for Rodgers to showcase his plus offensive tools.
His first Major League stint didn’t quite go as planned, hitting .246 in 65 at-bats with a big fat goose egg in the home runs column. However, Rodgers has been tearing it up in Triple-A, hitting .350 with 20 extra-base hits and nine home runs in 37 games, and has displayed a plus hit tool and plus raw power ever since getting drafted. Combine those tools with Coors Field and that usually leads to good things. Many dropped Rodgers when he was sent back to Triple-A weeks ago, making him widely available right now in re-draft leagues.
Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Reynolds is a player I featured in my waiver wire piece on the last day of May due to how well he was hitting to start the season. At the time, he was hitting a robust .345 in 116 at-bats, but the worry was that he would eventually lose playing time in that crowded Pittsburgh outfield. Those worries can be put to bed. In the month of June, Reynolds is scalding hot, hitting .393 with six doubles, one homer, nine RBI, and 11 runs scored in 61 at-bats.
Sure, you can look to his ridiculously high .446 BABIP and scream regression from the rooftops if you wanted to. Is Reynolds likely to hit .362 all season? Of course not. But Reynolds has always been one of the top pure hitters in the minors with a .312 batting average for his minor league career and never once did his batting average finish below the .302 mark he posted in the Double-A Eastern League in 2018.
Not only has Reynolds been hitting for a high average and using the whole field well, he’s also been making a ton of hard contact with his 49.3% hard contact rate ranking 16th best in the Majors for players with 190-plus plate appearances. Unfortunately, his sub-30% flyball rate will continue to suppress his power. Even if he only hits 5-10 home runs the rest of the way, at least you can expect a strong batting average with plenty of runs hitting out of the #2 spot regularly. And if you’re still worried that he’ll lose playing time, stop. Corey Dickerson is the one losing time and Reynolds will not come out of the lineup while he’s hitting far above .300.
Danny Santana, 1B/2B/OF, Texas Rangers
I’ve been reluctant to buy into Danny Santana this season due to all the struggles he’s experienced over the last several seasons. And yes, I was one of the people to invest fairly heavily in Santana during 2015 draft season after his .319/70/7/40/20 rookie campaign in 2014 with Minnesota. But as he continues to hit the ball well nearing the end of June, it’s time to consider Santana in more than just deeper mixed leagues.
For the season, Santana is hitting .308 with six home runs and eight steals in 169 at-bats, and has been starting around five times a week at either first base, second base, or in the outfield. With his subpar 8/51 BB/K rate, I’d expect him more in the .270-280 range than over .300 moving forward, but as long as that comes with a 25-30 steal pace and some home runs mixed in, that will play just fine to along with his multi-positional eligibility.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire – Pitchers
Zac Gallen, SP, Miami Marlins
Stop. Before you continue reading this, I urge you to check your league’s waiver wire for Zac Gallen. If he’s still there, go ahead and click that add button quick. This is potentially the biggest impact pitching promotion we’re going to get from here until the end of the season. Gallen was dominating the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League at a nearly absurd level. In 14 starts spanning 91.1 innings, Gallen had a 1.77 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, and 11.0 K/9, leading the PCL in nearly every pitching category, most of them by a substantial amount. Gallen’s dominance is even more impressive when you see that offense is up even more than usual in the PCL.
Gallen’s rise from a prospect not even considered a top-10 guy in his own system pre-season to one of the hottest waiver wire additions of the season can be attributed to his high pitching IQ and rock-solid command of his arsenal. He’ll sit in the low-90s with run and sink on his fastball and mix in a cutter, changeup, and curveball, all of which flash above-average to plus. While he doesn’t have the one dominant pitch, Gallen can locate all four of his offerings and mixes his pitches incredibly well to keep hitters off balance. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Gallen is a top-40 starter the rest of the way with low ratios and more than a strikeout per inning.
Trevor Richards, SP, Miami Marlins
Say what you want about their franchise as a whole right now, but the Marlins have developed a solid little pitching core with Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, and Trevor Richards, to go along with Sandy Alcantara, Gallen, and others that have come up this season. Richards is the one I want to focus on here. On the season, Richards has a respectable 3.54 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, and those numbers are even better over the last month at 2.29 and 1.08 respectively.
There hasn’t been one major difference for Richards this season, but rather a bunch of minor improvements. Richards has reduced his fastball usage by nearly 15%, incorporating a slider and trusting his secondary offerings more overall. The results have been slight improvements in his contact allowed metrics and a 1.5% jump in his SwStr%. Wins will be hard to come by on this Marlins team, but Richards needs to be owned any for the solid ratios and around a strikeout per inning.
Jordan Yamamoto, SP, Miami Marlins
First I list two Rockies in the hitter section and now three Marlins pitchers? What will I do next? (Insert evil laugh here). But I promise this is the last one. Jordan Yamamoto flew relatively under the radar for the entirety of his minor league career despite pitching well at every level. It wasn’t really until a strong showing in last year’s Arizona Fall League that Yamamoto really put himself on the map and that success has continued in 2019 at both Double-A Jacksonville and through his first two starts with the Marlins.
Both of those starts came against the St. Louis Cardinals with Yamamoto tossing seven shutout innings each time out. Can he just face the Cardinals every start for the rest of the season? The upside here isn’t nearly as high as it is with Gallen, but Yamamoto has the skills to stick in the rotation and provide solid back-end value the rest of the way.
Michael Lorenzen, RP, Cincinnati Reds
Each week, I like to include a relief pitcher whenever possible. Some weeks it doesn’t quite work out, but this week we do have a speculative saves target in coming out of Cincinnati. Each of the last two save opportunities have gone to Michael Lorenzen, who converted each of them without allowing a baserunner. On the season, Lorenzen has posted a respectable 3.05 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 38 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. For the time being, he appears to at least be in the saves mix along with Raisel Iglesias in Cincinnati and is worth a look for all the saves-needy owners out there. Sometimes you just have to take a few saves wherever you can get them.
Photo/Video Credit: Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire, Robert Robinson, MLB Pipeline.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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